Sandy Hook Elementary teacher speaks to WSU students - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Sandy Hook Elementary teacher speaks to WSU students

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Kaitlin Roig-Debellis Kaitlin Roig-Debellis
WESTFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

A little more than 15 months ago, Adam Lanza, 20, took the lives of 26 students and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

One teacher who survived the shooting, by locking her students' bathroom, spoke to a packed audience at Westfield State University on Monday Night.

When she heard gunshots, Kaitlin Roig-Debellis barricaded her Sandy Hook Elementary School students in a tiny bathroom.

"And so I said to them in that moment where I thought it was going to be the last thing that they heard, that I love them very much. I was so thankful that they were my students and that I was so lucky to be their teacher," said Roig-Debellis.

Less than an hour later, a SWAT team opened the bathroom door and found Roig-Debellis with her 15 students alive.

On Dec. 14, 2012, Roig-Debellis became a survivor and a hero to her students, their parents and the world.

"What happened on that day doesn't define myself, my students or our school. I refuse to let it," said Roig-Debellis.

Instead, she has taken a year off from teaching to lecture students and educators across the country and to start a non profit, Classes 4 Classes, bringing acts of kindness to groups of students in the United States.

"For myself and my own healing, it was very important to me to do those two things," said Roig-Debellis.

It was a standing room only at Westfield State's Scanlon Hall.

Shannon O'Connor was just one of the many students who packed in to her Roig-Debellis speak.

"I hope that I will have that same commitment to my job, and will be able to do the same thing. It means a lot to me that she is here. She is the epitome of what I want to be,"said O'Connor.

Roig-Debellis will begin teaching again in August. She said in a classroom is where she is meant to be.

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